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Yahoo to Pull the Plug on “Core” Messenger Features: Most Take Effect December 14

Sites include , . Published on December 4th, 2012. Written by Anthony West.

All good things come to an end and so the recent announcement by Yahoo that many core features in Yahoo Messenger are to be discontinued can at least be taken in that spirit.

Since taking over at Yahoo, Marissa Mayer has implemented a raft of changes; all geared at making the media and search company leaner and more agile. The latest move surrounding Messenger looks like a perfect dovetail for that strategy.

Public chat rooms to be discontinued

It was all the way back in March 1998 that Yahoo unveiled the first public version of Messenger and one of the features that made the IM client popular was the availability of public chat rooms. These chat rooms covered everything from the obscure to more universal topics like Love & Romance, Travel and Health. There was also a bevy of local chat rooms for specific geographic locations. People in Germany could meet and talk to local people about all things German.

For a good number of years Yahoo’s public chat rooms were clean for the most part and the bot-riddled state you see today wasn’t a part of the chat room experience. What’s left of these chat rooms will now face the axe. “In order to focus on providing great new features for Yahoo! Messenger, we are discontinuing some Messenger services, including our public chat rooms on December 14,” said the company in a statement.

These “topic-based communities” as Yahoo put it will signal the end of an era when they go. AOL used to have them and so too did Microsoft; when Yahoo closes its last set of public chat rooms, instant messaging will say goodbye to the last vestiges of topic-based IM communities.

Pingbox and Jajah face the axe

One of the more recent additions to Yahoo Messenger was Pingbox, a feature that lets users chat privately with visitors interacting with their social networking profiles and websites directly in Yahoo Messenger. Come December 14 this feature will be discontinued.

Yahoo will be discontinuing its VOIP service offered through Jajah. Come January 30, 2013, user will no longer be able to make calls or top up their Jajah accounts with credit. People who’ve invested a lot in Jajah via credit will be offered refunds.  This discontinuation of this feature will no doubt drive users over to Skype.

Yahoo is also uncoupling Messenger from other instant messaging platforms and users are being advised that the interoperability between Yahoo Messenger and Windows Live Messenger will cease after December 14. This feature will perhaps not be missed since Microsoft plans to discontinue Live Messenger in favour of integrating its features into Skype, anyway.

All in all the changes aren’t many but they are fundamental and therefore very profound. How Yahoo plans to keep the millions of devoted Yahoo Messenger users engaged is anyone’s guess. One thing is certain though, unless the company can find novel and interesting ways to make Yahoo Messenger fun to use, few people will use it beyond the cessation of these core features.

Is Yahoo making a bad move by getting rid of these key features in Yahoo Messenger? Share your thoughts below.

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